Shōhaku Okumura

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Shōhaku Okumura
Shōhaku Okumura in 2006
Born (1948-06-22) June 22, 1948 (age 70)
ReligionZen Buddhism
SpouseYūko Okumura
ChildrenYōko and Masaki
EducationKomazawa University
Senior posting
Based inSanshin Zen Community
PredecessorKosho Uchiyama
SuccessorHōkō Karnegis

Shōhaku Okumura (奥村 正博, b. 22 June 1948) is a Japanese Sōtō Zen priest and the founder and abbot of the Sanshin Zen Community located in Bloomington, Indiana,[1] where he and his family currently live. From 1997 until 2010, Okumura also served as Director of the Sōtō Zen Buddhism International Center in San Francisco, California, which is an administrative office of the Sōtō school of Japan.


Shōhaku Okumura was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948. He received his education at Komazawa University in Tokyo, Japan, where he studied Zen Buddhism. On December 8, 1970, Okumura was ordained at Antaiji by his teacher Kōshō Uchiyama, where he practiced until Uchiyama retired in 1975.[2] He then traveled to the United States, where he co-founded Valley Zendo in Massachusetts[3] and continued Uchiyama's style of zazen practice there until 1981.[3] In that year, he returned to Japan and began translating the writings of Uchiyama and Eihei Dōgen from Japanese into English. Prior to founding the Sanshin Zen Community in 1996, he was a teacher at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1993 to 1996[4] and at the Kyoto Sōtō Zen Center[citation needed].


Okumura attributes his desire to become a Buddhist the discovery of a book while he was in high school called Self (自己, jiko) by Kōshō Uchiyama, who would become his teacher not long after. After Okumura became a teacher in his own right, his message remained much the same as Uchiyama's and is centered around the practice of zazen, largely to the exclusion of other rituals associated with the tradition. Okumura also focuses on the translation of the works of Eihei Dōgen and associated texts into English, as well as aiding his students in the study of such writings. His practice of zazen is built on what Uchiyama called "sesshin without toys.” These sesshins of three, five, or seven days are completely silent and consist of fourteen hours of zazen each day, punctuated only by meals and sleep in the evening. There are no services, chants, or work periods. These alternate with "genzō-e retreats", which are five days of intensive study of one or more fascicles of Dōgen's collection of writings called the Shōbōgenzō. He has published several translations of material previously unavailable in English such as Dōgen’s Pure Standards for the Zen Community and Eihei Kōroku, both with Taigen Dan Leighton.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Okumura, Shohaku (Fall 2005). "Kokoro". Buddhadharma: the Practitioner's Quarterly. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
  2. ^ Uchiyama, Kosho; Thomas Wright; Jishō Cary Warner; Shohaku Okumura (2004). Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice. Wisdom Publications. pp. xvii–xxi. ISBN 978-0-86171-357-8.
  3. ^ a b Okumura, Shohaku (2012). Living By Vow. Wisdom Publications. pp. 182–183. ISBN 9781614290100.
  4. ^ Okumura, Shohaku (2012). Living By Vow. Wisdom Publications. pp. ix. ISBN 9781614290100.
  5. ^ Haederle, Michael (12 November 2013), "Profile: Sanshin Zen Community", Lion's Roar, retrieved 2018-05-08

External links[edit]